Police Enforcement of Family Orders
Updated: May 29, 2022
Unfortunately I frequently see families dealing with mental health, substance abuse, violence and other serious issues with their former spouses or partners and their children. These families regularly can have issues regarding responsible decision making, disagreements over parenting time and sometimes unilateral decisions. In these circumstances, you want to set rules so everyone knows what is right and wrong going forward. Court orders are commonly used in these circumstances to set out the rules. One clause that can be found in a Court Order is a police enforcement clause. I regularly get asked about circumstances where it can be sought and how hard it is to get this clause put into an Order.
For many families, there is no 'need' for the police to get involved. It is not uncommon for parents to disagree about parenting time/schedules/drop off times. I work with my clients to hopefully alleviate these issues through negotiation and discussion. When that doesn't work, we may have to take the matter to Court. When deciding what clauses should be included in a Court Order regarding the children, the only question that the Court must answer is "what is in the best interest of the children?" The Courts have long held that police enforcement is a rarely ordered provision because it can be incredibly harmful for the children involved. I think of police enforcement as a 'last resort' rather than a first option.
I have worked with families that have required these orders and a few that actually had to make use of them. I always hope that the use of police enforcement can be avoided. The most common situations where we will see police enforcement clauses be included in an Order, are situations where one parent has unlawfully withheld the children in direct contradiction of a Court Order or has attempted or succeeded in moving and hiding the children without notice or without a Court Order. In these more extreme scenarios, the Court will make use of more extreme remedies to fix the situation.
If you are struggling to create a schedule for parenting and want assistance, a lawyer can be very helpful. Contact me or give me a call today to discuss what I can do to help you move your family to a more happy place. You can also take a look at my website for more information on Parenting Time and Child Custody and Decision-Making Authority.